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Friday, January 28, 2022

Trader Joe's Graham Cracker Squares

During these coldest days of winter, certain rooms in our house remain a bit chilly even with the furnace on, so I dusted off our trusty Buddy Heater from our full-time RVing days. We always have a few small propane tanks on hand in case of a power outage, so I put one on the Buddy and fired it up to raise the temp in our office a few degrees.

Then it occurred to me that using the propane-generated flame simply for heat might be a bit wasteful. I mean, it's not exactly a wood fire at a campsite, but there's easily enough heat there to toast a marshmallow, or at least to get it nice and gooey on the inside. Fortunately we had marshmallows stashed away in the pantry...and right next to them a chocolate bar.

"Man, if only we had graham crackers, we could make s'mores right in the office," I thought to myself. The beautiful wifey reminded me that not only did we have graham crackers, but we had Trader Joe's Graham Cracker Squares in our "maybe to be reviewed" section. Sweet.

If we're talking actual graham crackers and not cutesy little animal-shaped graham cookies, I think the only ones I've ever had were the traditional Nabisco or Kellogg's brand or maybe a generic store-brand imitation. There's nothing wrong with regular graham crackers, especially if you're using them for s'mores. They have little perforation lines so you can snap them in half or in quarters. They're pretty flat, slightly honey sweet, and crunchy.

But Trader Joe's offering is significantly puffier. They're not soft, they're still crunchy, but they're a little more three-dimensional. They come in perfect s'more-optimized squares—hence the name Graham Cracker Squares. Taste-wise, they're pretty much what you'd expect. No tricks. No gimmicks. No reinvention of the wheel here.

Taste-wise, there's not much of a difference between TJ's squares and traditional Honey Maid or what have you, but I like the format of these a little more. Traditional graham crackers might get three and a half stars from me and four from Sonia, so we'll go half a star higher for these.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Trader Joe's Criollo Chocolate

 Living in a 100-plus year old house, I often dream of finding some hidden treasure somewhere in here.'d be awesome to find an old stash of historic collectibles or coins or, well, just something old and cool, right?

It's not nearly the same, but I was hoping I struck some gold when we cleaned out the fridge and found this nicely preserved, newer era Trader Joe's Criollo Chocolate Bar. 

Sounds fancy, eh? I had no idea we even had it or when we bought it or if it's even still a thing but, well, here we are. 

I really have no idea what criollo means, but according to the wrapper, its some fancy cocoa beans. I'm down with that. But a fan of dark chocolate, this bar doesn't do it for me. The dark stuff is supposed to be bittersweet, which I like, but this...not enough bitter, a bit too much sweet. it's a careful balance that has to be done well. By no means is the criollo anything approaching like milk chocolate or anything - 80% is a plenty dark - but there's this little added tinge of sweet. Some other reviews I stumbled across mention a "hint of cherry" which maybe is what they're referring to, but I don't taste cherry. it's more just a meh than any specific flavor. 

It's smooth enough, and is okay, but there's other bars I'd be going for. Not even sure if rebuying is an option, but if it were, i'd likely pass. Just meh. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Criollo Chocolate: 5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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